Linked with Paul Craig Roberts – USA.
Published on Counterpunch, by Paul Craig Roberts, 04 October, 2008.
Is the Paulson bailout itself as big a fraud as the leveraged subprime mortgages?
Yesterday, here on CounterPunch, I discussed the bailout as proposed and noted that the proposal cannot succeed if it impairs the US Treasury’s credit standing and/or the combination of mark-to-market and short-selling permits short-sellers to prosper by driving more financial institutions into bankruptcy.
A reader’s comment and an article by Yale professors Jonathan Kopell and William Goetzmann raise precisely this question of the fraudulence of the Paulson package.
As one reader put it,“We have debt at three different levels: personal household debt, financial sector debt and public debt. The first has swamped the second and now the second is being made to swamp the third. The attitude of our leaders is to do nothing about the first level of debt and to pretend that the third level of debt doesn’t matter at all.”
The argument for the bailout is that the banks will be free of the troubled instruments and can resume lending and that the US Treasury will recover most of the bailout costs, because only a small percentage of the underlying mortgages are bad.
Let’s examine this argument.
In actual fact, the Paulson bailout does not address the core problem. It only addresses the problem for the financial institutions that hold the troubled assets. Under the bailout plan, the troubled assets move from the banks’ books to the Treasury’s. But the underlying problem – the continuing diminishment of mortgage and home values – remains and continues to worsen … (full text).
(Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He can be reached by mail).